March 14, 2013
Tread Lightly & as little as Possible
Displaying a picture of a traction engine, Harper Adams University senior lecturer David White insisted that our ancestors knew something – ‘keep off the soil.’
“If a tillage operation isn’t going to be of benefit, don’t do it,” he urged those attending the recent Agrii-sponsored Soil and Water Management Centre soil recovery workshop.
Mr White highlighted the importance of ballasting tractors correctly to achieve the ‘sweet spot’ wheel slip figure of 8-15% to provide optimum traction with minimal soil damage.
All implements had critical working depths. “Never work deeper than you need to,” he stressed. “As a rule of thumb, if you double the depth you quadruple the force needed to pull it.”
For tined cultivators, he pointed out that the critical depth is typically six times the tine width.
Backward facing tines, surprisingly perhaps, needed more pulling than those inclined forward at the same depth. “So consider lifting them out if the going’s difficult – they just add to the draft need.”
“Worn tines, like worn blades on a forage harvester, are false economy,” he cautioned. “Tyre pressures should be reduced to the lowest recommended by the manufacturer for a given load when field working. Compaction at depth was hard to undo, so growers should avoid creating it by keeping vehicles with high tyre pressures off their fields.”
Mr White offered the following key advice to help growers cope with this spring’s tricky conditions:
By kind permission of Farmers Weekly.